The trip to Durban was a disaster. Our agent had booked us into the Lonsdale Hotel's El Castilian nightspot to fill in a two month gap in order to synchronize with the three-monthly contract cycle at the Carlton Hotel. But without our knowledge, the Lonsdale's agent had booked an overseas band to start their contract on what would have been the beginning of our second month, and were were going to be ditched! Fortunately for me, the Keilly brothers' home town was up the road in Pietermartizburg and one of the former Rising Suns band members Andy Potgieter came to the rescue by arranging for us to play the missing month at the Imperial Hotel.
It was here that I met a very young groupie and once the band had left Pietermaritzburg for Johannesburg, fool that I was, I wanted to be with her. We maintained our relationship for the next few months with me leaving Jo'burg at 12:30 am on a Saturday night to drive to Pietermaritzburg through the night (during the fuel crisis with its 80km/hr blanket speed limits) to spend Sunday and the night before driving back in readiness for Monday night's performance. She also visited me in Jo'burg during her vacation, and I was fooled into thinking that this was it for me (put it down to the ignorance of youth ...)
So after four months I resigned from the band (the gig was never that good anyway - at least now I knew what it was like to play in hotels!) and returned to Pietermaritzburg to be with my fresh-out-of-school groupie, and, unbelievably, we were married soon after that. To this day I cannot believe that I could have made such a stupid move, and I have often wonderded how her parents could have allowed this, but then, her father had already given away three daughters (with two to go) and I'm sure he was on a roll. Little did I know that this decision of mine was to have profound consequences for me, not only regarding the musical career that I had set my sights on, but then many years later when she wreaked havoc in our family.
After getting married, in order to earn a living, I did what was easiest - I got a job as a junior structural engineer and was immediately given the task of designing a prestressed concrete highway bridge. Inevitably, I soon came up against a cultural barrier in that I could not adjust to the conservatism that was part and parcel of the consulting engineering profession and after almost a year in the job I simply walked out one day. Music was calling again (as my boss had always anticipated) and we made plans to go to Jo'burg.
That was then - amazing how only three decades later a woman's "love" (was it ever this?) can turn to unfettered malice and hatred when another woman walks into your life ... even years after the end of the relationship.
Anyway, my musical spirit is stronger for all of this, having been tested to its limits through the tough years of my marriage, not to mention the years that followed the torrid divorce, amounting to half as many again.